May 5th, 2016 – When a new employee comes on board here at Evatran we tell them we are a product company first. We sell Plugless, a premium wireless EV charger. Even as futuristic as it seems, it makes the lives of EV drivers easier here and now. Yes, we’re also a technology company. After all, close to half our staff are engineers. But what matters most to us as a company is how happy customers are using our products in daily life out there in the real world.
And with more than 600,000 real-world hours charged, the owner experience with wireless EV charging has had surprises for us all.
Plugless has been used by EV owners across the USA and Canada for more than two and a half years. We’ve integrated wireless EV charging (WEVC) systems into four separate EV models.
So, what has a real-world product company learned so far?
People Love Wireless EV Charging
Of course we’re going to say that EV drivers love wireless EV charging. It’s what we do.
But the customer feedback data is clear: #1 comment from EV owners who charge wirelessly – “I never want to go back to plugging in.” #2 comment “I had no idea how much of a difference this would make for me”.
Here’s how it plays out. Before they buy, customers like the idea of the convenience of Plugless and the innovation of wireless charging. Then, after a few weeks charging without the cord, it dawns on them that they never have to think about charging. Some forget to charge altogether, others say it’s like a virtual valet that fills their EVs. Their car is always charged and ready to go.
It’s fascinating, because you’ll find all sorts of random things online about Wireless EV Charging – always from people who have never experienced Plugless charging themselves. What you won’t see is a Plugless customer who has been charging wireless that says it wasn’t worth it. Go ahead and look, we’ll wait for you here.
If you are like most EV drivers, you’ll never go back to a gas car. Someday in the future you will charge wirelessly and you won’t want to go back to the plug either.
Wireless EV Charging Helps Sell EVs
We have customers who make the switch from ICE to EV when they find out about Plugless and wireless EV charging. This has a lot to do with the cords. We speak with EV manufacturers all the time and they tell us that perceptions about the hassles of the plug (right or wrong) is a barrier to selling EVs. This must be why nearly all have WEVC efforts underway. We can’t wait for some competition, the world needs more wireless EV charging.
Higher Power WEVC – Why it Doesn’t Matter as Much Now
“Why doesn’t Plugless offer a 20kW, 30kw, 120KW wireless EV charger?”
Remember, we’re a product company. We build what people want and need. The difficult part of wireless EV charging is not higher power. Engineering WEVC for real-world installations is the real challenge. WEVC must integrate simply and perfectly with the EV and at a total cost that is reasonable.
For at least several years WEVC is an at-home or at-work charging solution for EV drivers. There are many reasons for this, but highest among them is what we call the “last mile” of EV adoption.
The “last mile” is the high cost of supplying electricity to support even level 2 charging to homes. This is where the vast majority of charging occurs – more than 85% of charge hours according to a recent U.S. Department of Energy study. Consider the infrastructure cost to refit homes for 20kW higher power EV charging. As the EV market expands and more cars charge wirelessly, then high-power Plugless charging will be rolled out.
For now, higher power systems are fantastic news for press releases (and for electric buses). But, they will be impractical for everyday EV owners for many years. We’re part of the programs developing these higher power systems as well. You’ll see that Evatran (the maker of Plugless) was part of a 20kW wireless EV charger that was recently announced.
But again, adoption comes from real-world use. And Plugless is for using right now.
Time is Your Friend
When you never forget to charge, every minute your EV is parked it is charging. Or can be charging if you’ve set timers. Plugless owners tell us charging speed becomes less important to them. Their EVs are “topped off” all the time. There is no, “I’ll come back later and plug in” or “I don’t need to charge tonight (yikes, I needed to charge last night!)”.
Take our 7.2kW Plugless for Tesla S charger. It charges at 20 miles of range per hour (at least). This is plenty of charge for the VAST majority of Tesla drivers when you consider daily driving patterns and hours parked at home or at the office. Road warriors that log well over 200 miles per day and never park their EV in one place for more than a few hours are the exception.
Aftermarket Accessories Lead to Warranty Concerns
We’ve sold Plugless for EVs made by GM, Nissan, and Tesla Model S. Not one customer’s EV manufacturer warranty has been impacted by use of Plugless.
Sometimes, the aftermarket accessory market is where innovations test the waters. For example, an aftermarket accessory inspired the center console in the Tesla Model S. In the case of GM and Nissan, we have sold hundreds and hundreds of Plugless units for their cars. We have provided more than 500K charge hours in their EVs over the past two and a half years. Again, not one customer has had their warranty impacted by using the Plugless accessory.
Even so, we believe making sure your vehicle warranty is covered is a reasonable concern for any EV owner! We feel the same way about our own. So we added protection to the Plugless warranty, which covers repairs to your EV for any costs proven to be caused by Plugless. (Again, this has never, ever happened). Our customers have taught us that we needed to protect the warranty on their EVs beyond any doubt.
Look Forward to More Lessons
We celebrated two years of wireless EV charging sales earlier this year by opening up sales for our 7.2kW Tesla model S. There’s a new wave of Plugless customers that are about to start charging wirelessly. With them we expect to hit 1 million hours charged in just a few months. The feedback and data from our growing number of customers is invaluable. We’ll take these lessons to improve and grow the wireless EV charging market just as we help grow the EV market itself.
Keep an eye out, we’ll have more to share soon.